Tuesday’s inaugural ceremonies, and the events leading to and following it, were history in the making in more ways than one. True, when Barack Obama was sworn in as America’s 44th president, he became the first black man to do so. But it was also a swearing in that included the LGBT community more than ever before.
From the marching bands to the prayer led by Rev. Gene Robinson to gay icon Aretha Franklin’s always astounding performance, the ceremonial events involved LGBTs in a way they never have before.
And how fitting, seeing as though the man who is now our leader, President Barack Obama (feels good to say it, doesn’t it?), is the most inclusive president ever when it comes to LGBT rights and equality for all – at least that’s what he’s said.
A lot of back and forth has happened lately regarding Obama’s views on LGBT rights and his respect for the community. It has caused weeks of infighting over how many cabinet appointments we should have, how angry we should be over Rick Warren being chosen to speak at the inauguration and – the latest outrage – whether or not HBO and the Inaugural Committee’s little “blooper” that resulted in Robinson’s prayer being cut from public view on television really was a mistake, or a calculated attack on LGBT visibility.
But let’s stop and think: Robinson, one of the most controversial gay men of recent religious history, was still chosen to speak. It was a missed opportunity for visibility to those who won’t choose to look him up on YouTube, but whether he aired or not is irrelevant compared to the fact that he still spoke, and it was still very big news.
That, paired with the appearance of the Washington Gay Men’s Chorus and the other aforementioned queer-pearances, made for a ceremony (as well as a new president) our community could actually celebrate.
Bickering aside, we at Between The Lines think we should all agree that as far as visibility goes, this tipped the scales for us in a way we’ve never seen before. So what next?
Let’s keep it going, of course! It’s obvious that we’re on President Obama’s radar, but it’s going to be our job to keep our voices clear in his head so that as he begins sorting out his tasks for the (hopefully) next eight years, our issues will make the cut – and might even be bumped up on the list.
But let’s be clear: shouting that we’re angry about Rick Warren or whichever anti-gay icon Obama has associated with is not necessarily the best way to be heard. Being clear and vocal about the importance of our issues is. We need to let him know what we care about, which issues are most important and what exactly we want to see happen. Let’s make sure that not only all LGBT voices are heard, but also that mixed messages are retired in favor of one that we can all share. Visibility is important, but clarity of purpose will take us from his eyesight onto his to-do list.